It's 1829 in London and Number 7 on Berkeley Square is getting ready for Sir Geoffrey and his family's arrival. They have been traveling abroad for the past few years as Sir Geoffrey worked on several diplomatic missions for the crown. With him are his two daughters, Evangeline who is a real beauty and Abigail better known as Gail who is not. Added to the family in Portugal is Sir Geoffrey's new wife, Romilla who is all about appearances. Both girls are to be presented to society by Romilla with hopes of a good match. Romilla has high hopes for Evangeline but is resigned that Abigail will probably have no suitors. Still despite their differences the girls are close and are looking forward to being home in England once again.
Maximillian, Viscount of Fontaine and future Earl of Longsbowe, known to his friends as Max, has a totally different problem. He has a lovesick horse. His horse's love interest has been sold according to the stable master and now his horse mopes. His closest friend, Mr. William Holt, finds this extremely odd, as the horse in question is a gelding! Odder still is when Max's horse spies his love and takes off without notice with the end result of Max and Gail ending up in the park's pond! Yes, Gail's father has purchased the love interest.
First impressions are everything in society and Max and Gail's impressions of each other are not too favorable. Neither really wants anything to do with the other but find themselves meeting again at the girl's presentation ball. Calamity continues for this pair when Max trying to check to make sure Gail is okay after another tried to get her drunk is caught in a compromising position with her sister, Evangeline by a maid. Doing the only honorable thing, Max offers marriage to Evangeline, which her father and stepmother accept. In the course of this courtship, Max and Evangeline find little in common while Evangeline finds Mr. Holt at great companion. Romilla with good intentions keeps trying to make everything correct causing more misunderstandings among the young people and a lot of hurt feelings.
Overall, I enjoyed this story.
The characters were great. Romilla was trying her best for Evangeline and even had the room colors changed to perfectly match her eyes. She also had no hopes for Abigail as she never took her into consideration for anything nor did she ever expect anything out of this daughter. Abigail is content on learning new things and loves to debate. She tries hard to follow the dictates of her father's new wife but the spark that is Gail is missing. According to Romilla, women should not appear too smart yet Gail has no problems saying she knows 14 languages if you count pig Latin!
There is humor lurking in these pages, everything to love sick gelded horses to Max being vomited on during a ball. Readers never knew when exactly the characters would do something so them that would put them in a humorous to us situation.
The only real downside was you knew who belonged to whom very quickly in the book. The only thing you needed to wait on was how they were going to manage it with Romilla working towards one end and everyone else towards another.
Miss Gail Alton was not having a good day. Or a good year. First, her new stepmother strong-arms her into attending the Season as a foil to her beautiful sister Evangeline. Then while riding her mare in the park, she gets toppled by a stuffy, self-important, too handsome-by-half ‘gentleman’ who has the audacity to blame her for their fall into the chilly lake! Little did she know that the same man would soon be found in a compromising position with Gail’s sister… Forced into asking for Evangeline’s hand in marriage, Maximillian, Viscount Fontaine, can’t take his mind off the irksome girl who threw him from his horse and insists on matching wits with him at every turn. He’s determined to follow through with his best intentions, yet he can’t deny that every encounter with Gail makes him want to cast propriety aside – and whisk away the sister of his soon-to-be bride…